A new 360° camera from Facebook

The 360° Facebook camera includes 14 cameras placed in a circle plus two at the bottom and one at the top providing a crystal clear spherical view. Credit: Facebook

Facebook is clearly not in the biz of selling digital camera but clearly loves to see tools that would allow people to better share their experiences on FB. Oculus Rift is an example of FB stepping into "interfacing devices" area.

That is why, I guess, they put resources in the development of a camera that can provide a total immersive capturing of what's around you. Such content can then become visible through Oculus Rift goggles and can be used by third parties to develop more services (read: ads) that will bring revenues to Facebook.

Anyhow, this might just be speculation on my side. The fact is that Facebook has announced an amazing digital camera that can pick up a spherical view of an ambient at a very good resolution and tack sharp details. This is what will provide the sensation of being there.

The camera is actually a composite of 17 digital cameras, 14 in a circle one with a fisheye on top and two at the bottom (this is to avoid the capturing of the pole that is holding the camera). The accompanying software create a seamless capturing of the ambient.

The cost of the camera, just the material -BOM-, is in the order of 30,000$, a tad expensive for my pocket but it is cheaper than similar feature camera sold by Nokia, Ozo, that shipped in March 2016 at a price of 60,000$.

With this kind of cost (price) it is obviously not for the consumer market but for enabling media companies to create 360° content that can be used by Oculus Rift customers. 
Interestingly, the camera is open, in the sense that Facebook has published its specs and the architecture, enabling third parties to develop their own camera, or components, hoping that this will lead to a significant reduction of cost, although keeping the architecture designed by Facebook that would allow them to leverage on the produced content.
I am looking forward to see how this will evolve. Interesting anyhow, to see how software has now taken the upper hand in photography.  The cameras are sensors streaming data to software that will create the photo.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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